Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Ethics, Morals, and Laws for the Newly Born and the Newly Deceased

The New York Times recently had an article about the ethics of people posting baby photos to Facebook and other social media sites. Babies being what they are, they cannot exactly protest the occasionally very public record being made of their early years. The Ethicist concludes "The violation of personal privacy doesn’t start until an individual has the ability to understand what the violation means. Until that moment happens, other people — in this case, the individual’s parents — get to make those decisions (and are ethically positioned to do so)." But you may still be wondering what laws exist (or don't) to police the rights of such children. Two suggestions for starting your research: (1) try a few books in our library; and (2) read up on the Terms of Service or Use for social networking sites. Suggestion (2) may not create a right for your future clients (i.e., current babies) against their parents or social networking sites, but it may give you ideas about how to pursue claims or what claims may even be brought in future litigation.

On the flip side of the human rights coin, NPR brings us the story of efforts to write legislation governing our digital lives upon our demise:

"Since Internet companies serve clients across the country, the Uniform Law Commission is at work to avoid a patchwork of state-by-state rules that would add confusion. A committee of the non-partisan group of lawyers appointed by state governments is working on recommended bill language that would give executors the same powers over digital assets as they have over financial and physical ones."